Before we start on my latest author interview with an extremely talented author going by the name of David Evans. Let's have a look at his book before we start just to see just how talented this writer really is. He's good and this is why.
David graduated from Manchester University and had a successful career as a professional in the construction industry. His writing has generated strong acclaim having had a stage play shortlisted in the Essex Playwrights Festival in 2001 and gaining Commended and Highly Commended awards at Writers’ Conferences in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 for his crime writing. In 2013, his novel, Torment, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. His work is also exampled in How to Write a Chiller Thriller by Sally Spedding and published in April 2014. He has frequently been profiled in the press including Yorkshire Post, East Anglian Daily Times and BBC Radio. He is a frequent guest of the Essex Book Festival and a regular attendee at the Writers’ Café events of the Ipswich Arts Festival.
So David, the second of your Wakefield Series, Torment, is available to pre-order now with a publication date of 7th July. I must say when I read it I enjoyed it just as much as the first in the series, Trophies. In my mind, and many others going off the great reviews you have had, both are fantastic books and without a doubt very well received, but really what I want to know is, what has the author got to say about them? So David, tell me all about Trophies and Torment, and of course the third and final instalment, Talisman which should be published late summer/early autumn.
TROPHIES is set in the year 2000 and is the first outing of DI Colin Strong and his lifelong friend Bob Souter. They met at primary school and played in the same football teams, developing an intrinsic understanding on the pitch that is reflected off it now they are grown up and pursuing their separate careers. When the book opens, Bob has just returned to Yorkshire to take up a senior reporting position with the Yorkshire Post. As well as introducing the two men, we find Strong thinking he may well be on the point of solving a crime that has haunted West Yorkshire since 1979, the identity of Wearside Jack. But another series of previously unconnected sexual assaults on women has come to light following the discovery of a trophy case at the scene of a murder. Strong uses Souter to investigate areas he feels unable to and, at the same time, Souter is keen for a story. Tensions grow between the two men as both know they are not being totally honest and open with one another.
With TORMENT, three young women are missing, luxury cars are being stolen, an office worker is shot dead and the bodies of two schoolgirls, missing since the late 1980’s, are discovered. Strong and Souter are drawn into murky and dangerous worlds.
In TALISMAN, a prominent business lawyer found naked and shackled to a frame after a house fire, the discovery of a body lying in a bath for over a year and rumours of bribery and corruption regarding a proposed commercial development, provide plenty of challenges for our two friends.
Have you any plans to keep the series going or are you going to stop after this third book?
The series is there to be picked up again but when we leave the dynamic duo, there is a lot for them to consider. When I’d finished Talisman, I felt as though I needed to leave them alone for a while and write something else, away from this series. To that end, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating what I hope will be another crime fiction series and I am almost complete on the first draft. This will be called DISPOSAL and is set in north Essex towards the end of the long hot summer of 1976.
It is quite clear to see you have put a great deal of effort into getting everything just right for these books. It is also quite clear a great deal of research has gone into your writing, especially in Trophies and the references to what had happened with the so-called Wearside Jack tape. Just how hard was it for you to get all the required information, not just for the aspects of the tape but also the rest of the information in your books?
The thing about Trophies was that it began life with the title of I’m Jack (for obvious reasons). It was an idea that had been with me for a long time. I lived in the north of England all through the period of the Yorkshire Ripper hunt and I well remember the atmosphere that prevailed then. I also remember reading a newspaper article towards the end of 1980 which set out in tabular form all the known facts of the cases. At the time, it struck me that there was something fundamentally wrong. There was a murder that didn’t fit the pattern and it was the one which had given credence to the letters and tape. As it turned out, Sutcliffe denied responsibility for that particular crime and was never charged with it. The big unanswered question then was the identity of the source of this correspondence, later dubbed, Wearside Jack. Slowly, I began to formulate my own fictional answer which could fit all the known facts. That’s how I’m Jack began. And then the police caught John Humble through advances in DNA science. I had a choice at that point – throw away all that I’d written, or look again and re-draft. I chose to do the latter and TROPHIES was born. The published book is now the 8th draft of the story.
Visits to the Newspaper Library initially helped to remind me of some of the information I remembered and later, online searches were invaluable to make sure everything was as accurate as I could get it.
How long did your books take to write and was it more difficult than anticipated and if so why?
The first draft of TROPHIES (I’m Jack) took about two years. It has developed over time with editorial input from one agent and other writing friends as well as my own developments as a writer. As I said above, the book that is out there now is draft 8.
I began writing TORMENT probably around 2004 but it was left at somewhere around the 10,000 word mark, untouched for a good few years. I picked it up again and finally finished the first draft in 2013. In total, it probably represented about two years work. The 5th draft of this is now ready to publish.
With TALISMAN, I had some brief notes made through the later months of 2013 with around 5,000 words down. However I began drafting seriously in February 2014 and completed just over a year later in March 2015. It is complete in 2nd draft format but I would like one other sweep through to finally tighten until I’m happy for it to be published. That will be 3rd draft.
My current work in progress, DISPOSAL, was started tentatively last June and I hope to have the first draft complete by the end of July. However, other developments have impeded straight progress, like obtaining my publishing deal.
So generally, in the early days it would take me a good 2 years to produce a first draft but now, I am confident in being able to complete one in 12 months. (With other drafts, editing and developing in addition to that.) However I would say that my first drafts are probably at other writers second draft stage.
How would you describe your own writing style and do you think you could compare it to another author, if so who is he, or she?
I like to think I have developed my own style of writing. People have told me that I write very televisually (if that’s a word). It probably stems from my initial writing ambitions to write for TV. This was prompted by watching some poor television programmes many years ago and thinking that I could do better. So I thought, do something about it and I completed a screenwriting course back in the 90’s. But then I could see no opportunity for an unknown writer to break into television writing. At that point, I decided to write a novel.
I also love to incorporate the smattering of humour that reflects real life. It helps to produce light and shade in my books. And I’m pleased that some readers have commented on that favourably too. As far as influences are concerned, there are the obvious examples; Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and an author whose work I loved was Ron Ellis. Recently, I have become a big fan of Gordon Ferris, whose Glasgow quartet set in 1946/1947 has some seamless writing.
Now I also know that not only do you read a great deal of crime fiction you also love watching crime dramas on television. With this in mind does watching TV influence any of your writing in any way?
It has to; my answer above is testament to that. I also think that readers these days like to read in shorter chapters and that relates more to the TV format.
Would you ever consider writing in another genre apart from crime?
At the moment, no. I’m a firm believer in writing the sort of book you would enjoy reading yourself. In the same way, I don’t believe in writing for ‘the market’ whatever that is. I think if you try to do that, it will show through. I’ve always said that the challenge is finding people who like what I write rather than trying to write what I think they would like.
Now I know this is a common question for writers but tell my why do you write and what made you start writing in the first place.
I write because I believe I have a story to tell. The biggest buzz I get is when people I’ve never met, feedback just how much they enjoy my writing. So that is another reason I write – so people enjoy reading my work.
What do you enjoy most about your writing. Is it the plotting or perhaps the research or is it simply sitting in front of your computer and typing away.
I love it when my characters or the plot line takes me off on an unexpected journey. I also love the moments (maybe 2 or 3 in a book) where I struggle to take the action from point A to point B which is where it needs to go. I could be doing almost anything unrelated to writing when I suddenly get an, ‘Of course, yes, that’s it’, moment and the solution just comes. It may not be the solution I thought I needed but it sometimes turns out even better.
In DISPOSAL, I sat down to write a chapter where my two main characters were in a car. It was as though I was in the back seat taking notes. I had no idea what they were going to say until they spoke. That was a great joy for me.
What do you think is the most frustrating thing about being a writer?
The fact that appreciation is so subjective.
Apart from crime fiction which other books do you enjoy reading?
I like adventure stories from the likes of Clive Cussler. I’ve also read one or two biographies but I tend to get bored with them.
How does your writing day work?
No real pattern to it, although recently, I tend to be at the keyboard checking emails etc from around 07:30. My actual writing process can take place at any time during the day. Also important is thinking time. Going for a walk not only keeps the body going but it’s when I can sort a few things out.
What do you think is most important to a novel, plot or characters?
Both have to function to interest me as a reader. I have started some books which, although they explore a character, actually go nowhere. Conversely, following a plot but not having any interest in or caring about the characters doesn’t work either.
Well that was a fantastic interview and all I need to do now is say that I wish you the very best of luck.
Thanks Peter. Appreciate the opportunity.